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Edward A. Hayes
Personal details
Born Edward Arthur Hayes
January 5, 1893
Morrisonville, Illinois
Died May 1, 1955(1955-05-01) (aged 62)
Chicago, Illinois
Resting place Decatur, Illinois
Citizenship United States of America
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Residence Chicago, Illinois
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Ensign (World War One), Captain ( World War Two)

Edward Arthur Hayes was Commander of the American Legion from 1933-1934, a Veteran of the First and Second World War, candidate for United States Senator from Illinois and Assistant Attorney General in Illinois from 1928 to 1933.

Early life

Edward Hayes was born on 5 January 1893 in Morrisonville, Illinois.[1][2] After his birth his family moved to Decatur, Illinois.[1][2] Hayes attended St. Louis University where he studied Law.[3] Edward Hayes served as an Ensign in the United States Navy during the First World War.[3]

Pre-American Legion

Edward Hayes was a practicing lawyer for 35 years. Notably he worked as Assistant Attorney General in Illinois from 1928 to 1933.[2] Hayes resigned this position to take the National Commander of the American Legion position.

American Legion

Edward Hayes joined the American Legion shortly after the First World War and quickly climbed the ranks. By 1929 he was the Illinois Commander of the American Legion and by 1933 Hayes was the National Commander for the American Legion.[2][4]

Policy Positions while head of the American Legion


The Illinois American Legion was known as a conservative branch of the American Legion. When Edward Hayes became head of the National American Legion he carried these conservative views with him. The American Legion demanded patriotic education for the children of United States, with Hayes saying to the National Education Association (NEA) that the American Legion, " has the right to demand that education be constructive for the country's welfare and that it be patriotic in character".[4] Throughout this period, the American Legion fought unsuccessfully to obtain passage of a law requiring a loyalty oath for teachers. When the campaign failed the Legion began a " vigorous campaign of Americanism".[4] This campaign was not solely focused on communism, fascism was also considered a threat to the American way of life, thus the Legion advocated the removal of both from the classroom.[5]


Since its creation the American Legion has been a strong advocate of anti-communist ideology. Hayes was an especially fervently anti-communist, when he was told Communist protestors were stepping on American flags during a protest Hayes was quoted as saying, " If we catch them doing that, I think there is enough virility in the American Legion personnel to adequately take care of that type of person".[4] In response to his uncompromising attitude towards communism Hayes was referred to as the "semi-fascist leader" of the Legion by author John Gunther .[4]

Disabled Veterans

While National Commander Hayes spent much of his time in Washington, DC lobbying for the restoration of benefits to disabled veterans that had been cut due to the Great Depression.[6] When he wasn't campaigning in the Capitol Hayes traveled the nation, taking the message to as many Americans as possible to increase the lobbying pressure for the restoration of disabled veterans compensation. Hayes's lobbying, in addition to Senator Bennett Clark, were responsible for the passage of Public Law No. 141 which restored disability compensation rates to pre-depression levels and expanded services for veterans despite opposition from the Roosevelt Administration.[6]

Political Involvement

Hayes served several political positions after his time in the Legion. He had managed Frank Knox's Vice Presidential campaign when Knox ran on the Republican ticket with Alf Landon in 1936.[3] Hayes was one of the organizers of the grass roots Republican Illinois State conference in 1935. He served as platform and program committee chairman on both Illinois and National levels in the Republican party on several occasions, and first sought public office as candidate for nomination as Attorney General on the Republican ticket in 1940.[2] During the Second World War he served as a special assistant to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. In 1954, he was candidate for the Republican Illinois Senatorial nomination. In the primary, he was second, being defeated by Joseph Meek.[2]


Hayes entered a Chicago hospital 21 March 1955 for a bladder operation and was believed to be recovering when he suffered the heart attack and died.[2][3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ex-National Legion Commander Expires". Anderson Daily Bulletin. 4 April 1955. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Associated Press (2 April 1955). "Ed Hayes Dies; Former Chief Of American Legion". Mt. Vernon Register-News. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Edward Arthur Hayes". Find a grave. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Littlewood, Thomas B. (2004). Soldiers back home : the American Legion in Illinois, 1919-1939. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 85,95–96,151. ISBN 0-8093-2587-X. 
  5. Spring, Joel (1992). Images of American life : a history of ideological management in schools, movies, radio, and television. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 128. ISBN 0791410692. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rumer, Thomas A. (1990). The American Legion : an official history, 1919-1989. New York: M. Evans. pp. 212–213. ISBN 0-87131-622-6. 

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